Ms. Allyson T. Clarke
Bachelor's Degree Candidate,
School of Business
Graduates of the Class of 2003, families, friends, deans, faculty and staff, and
all honored guests: in song, in heartfelt words, and in prayer, we express the
joy we all share on this beautiful occasion.
Commencement marks our initiation in the fullest sense into the fellowship
of the university as bearers of her torch and promoters of her spirit.
I did not have a final revelation in the last few weeks as I prepared this
speech and navigated my way through the clearance lines to complete the final
hurdle to this glorious day. however, three things did touch my heart, that I
want to share with you and my classmates. they are: legacy, service, and
follow your call.
First the HU legacy.
Your crown has been paid for. The one hundred and thirty-fifth commencement is
the fulfillment of our Founder’s dream of educating free blacks. We have all
had our unique journey to the Mecca, whether it has been from any of America’s
fifty states, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia, or Europe. We must
continue the groundbreaking tradition of excellence exemplified by past
graduates. It is imperative that we recognize that our opportunity to
contribute is limitless and build on the foundation laid by the pillars of our
• Names such as former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder–first
African-American governor elected since Reconstruction; Jessye Norman–opera
star; Toni Morrison–author and Pulitzer Prize recipient; Dr. Lasalle D.
Leffall – world renowned surgeon; former New York Mayor David Dinkins; and I
could go on and on naming howard university graduates who have made
illustrious contributions to the world, but time does not permit. their work
should serve as a supreme inspiration to all.
• For each one of us has been blessed with god given talents and
reinforced with the educational tools that will allow us to succeed. as the
groundbreaking management book by Peters and Waterman states we must live a
life in search of excellence. that is the howard way!
The second is give back to community and HU.
“Am I my brother’s keeper?” genesis 4:9. Yes, we are. As graduates of Howard
University, we must assign meaning to the term keeper, to determine our
responsibility to our community. We have the unique advantage of an education,
second to none, which we must use to serve America and our global society.
• As we leave this campus to return to our diverse environments, we must
find a vision for our lives that encompasses service, whether it is mentoring
a child, feeding the homeless, or tutoring at a local school. as Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr., said “everyone has the power for greatness–not for fame, but
greatness, because greatness is determined by service.” We can all serve and
as HU graduates we are obligated to serve.
• As graduates of this noble institution we are aware of the difference
it has made in our lives. It is our solemn duty to give back by donating to
our alma mater in order to ensure and sustain excellence and opportunity use
your knowledge and your talents not only to fulfill personal goals and needs,
but for a higher purpose that benefits others. we are our brother’s keeper.
And finally, follow your call.
Clearly we are equipped with the tools. it is up to us to use these tools to
uplift our community; and propel ourselves to leadership and service in our
respective fields of expertise. don’t look for all the answers neatly tucked
away in one thing or another because you won’t find them.
• If you can’t win in a particular instance, don’t hesitate to compromise. If
you think the cause is right, don’t hesitate to dig in your heels and fight.
hold fast to idealism, but don’t miss the boat because of the rose-tinted
frames. While pragmatism can be good, don’t hesitate to consider the novel or
new approach in any given situation.
• Oftentimes it is through our mistakes that we realize our most crucial
life lessons, so be open and receptive to new and different ways of
accomplishing goals and objectives. There are no specific roadmaps. . .but
with a Howard University education and faith in god, by whatever name you
call, peace dwells and success is assured. I bid you peace.